Matrox turns graphics boards into higher ‘life’ form

March 20, 2006

It’s been a long haul for Matrox in medical imaging: three decades of developing display technologies, first as components in end-user equipment such as CT scanners, most recently as controllers for monitors. The proliferation of digital radiology equipment, with its dependence on high-performance displays, has driven the company on this path.

It's been a long haul for Matrox in medical imaging: three decades of developing display technologies, first as components in end-user equipment such as CT scanners, most recently as controllers for monitors. The proliferation of digital radiology equipment, with its dependence on high-performance displays, has driven the company on this path.

"Display manufacturers can design the glass (monitor) for the front end, and they have an idea of what they need in the electronics internally to drive the glass," said George Rigas, Matrox business development manager for medical imaging products. "What they need is something that puts the images up and brings them to life."

This is what Matrox does best, and it has done so for a long time. Since 1976, the company has designed, developed, and produced components for medical imaging applications. Yet the market only recently evolved enough to justify a business unit dedicated to this segment. Its first such product line, the MED Series, was launched in 2002 and is still available. These display controller boards remain Matrox's flagship products, supporting power displays in gray scale or color, portrait or landscape, at resolutions up to 5 megapixels.

Matrox followed with the RAD Series, a lower cost alternative that powers dual displays with resolutions up to 3 MP. RAD Series boards offer the option of being combined with additional RAD or MED Series boards to support more displays.

Then, late last year, the company introduced its AuroraVX Series. This series is capable of driving three displays, a navigation console up to a resolution of 2 MP, and twin imaging displays up to 3 MP each, all from a single PCI express card.

The Matrox MED, RAD, and AuroraVX products are, in essence, graphics boards. But Rigas regards them as much more. They have to be, he said, because the demands of medical imaging displays are far greater than those of consumer-oriented displays. The most obvious demand is the pixel density of medical imaging displays, which far excees the density of PC-based displays.

"You need to design a specialized solution to drive the electronics of that display," he said.

Matrox engineers are continuing to develop their basic platforms, while adding products that offer vendors more options. They have evolved the MED Series over the last four years, for example, to meet the demands of new displays and the markets these displays are designed to enter. Simultaneously, the RAD and Aurora platforms have offered choices oriented toward lower cost or convenience.

"We design products that allow customers to choose what is best for them to implement," Rigas said. "If you want to use two RAD boards in one PC, you've got that option. But if your machine doesn't have the extra slot space to put in two RADs, you can put in an Aurora to drive more than one display."